December 2011

Orioles reportedly add to FO

The Orioles front office has reportedly added another member, as several media outlets claimed longtime baseball executive Lee Thomas has reached an agreement to join Dan Duquette’s staff as a special assistant.

Duquette, on a teleconference announcing the trade for catcher Taylor Teagarden early Thursday evening, declined comment on the reports.

“I don’t have any comment on any staff additions,” said Duquette, who was named the executive vice president of baseball operations last month.

The Orioles will almost assuredly announce some movement in their front office in the coming weeks with the departure of director of baseball operations Matt Klentak –who is currently the assistant general manager in Anaheim — and reassignment of director of pro scouting Lee MacPhail just the beginning of the organizational changes. Duquette, who has announced only the hiring of amateur scouting director Gary Rajsich so far, has said that he would like for most of his staff to be in place by the end of next week’s Winter Meetings.

Thomas served as the Phillies GM from 1988-97 and was an American League All-Star as a player. After he was replaced in Philadelphia, Thomas returned to the Red Sox as a special assistant to Duquette –who was GM until 2002– from 1998-‘03. CBS Sports first reported that Thomas was a possibility, with MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal –citing an unnamed source — reporting that an agreement was in place.

Orioles announce FanFest details

The unofficial kickoff to the 2012 baseball season, the Orioles annual FanFest will be held Saturday, January 21 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

This year’s FanFest, presented by the Sarasota Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, will feature appearances by current and former Orioles players and coaches as part of a day-long celebration of baseball that will also include clinics, exhibits and interactive games.  The event will be held from 11:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. ET, with early entry for Orioles Season Plan Holders to begin at 10:00 a.m. as part of the Orange Carpet Program.

In addition to FanFest activities, individual game tickets for the 2012 season will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. on January 21. Fans may purchase tickets at the Convention Center or the Orioles’ Box Office at the north end of the warehouse throughout the day. Tickets will also be available via phone at 1-888-848-BIRD, online at www.orioles.com and at the Official Team Store at the York Galleria in York, PA.

The Orioles’ autograph policy for FanFest 2012 will duplicate last year’s policy and is designed to support youth charitable endeavors through OriolesREACH, as well as reduce fan disappointment by shortening wait times. Children ages 4-14 will have a specially designated Kids Only player autograph station presented by ESSKAY that is free of charge and will operate continuously throughout the day. All other ESSKAY autograph stations at FanFest will require the advance purchase of autograph vouchers exclusively at www.orioles.com, with all of the proceeds to benefit children’s charities through OriolesREACH. A date, time and additional details pertaining to the sale of autograph station vouchers for autograph stations will be announced at a later date.

In addition to autographs, other FanFest activities include question and answer forums with players, front office staff and media; clinics for children on a youth-sized baseball field; memorabilia dealers; a Spring Training in Sarasota exhibit; and the opportunity to apply for seasonal employment with the organization.

Tickets for FanFest are on sale now and are available online at www.orioles.com/fanfest, via phone at 1-888-848-BIRD and at the Official Team Store at the York Galleria in York, PA. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 14 and under and those over 55. Tickets can be purchased on the day of the event at the Convention Center and the Orioles Box Office. 2012 Season Plan Holders will receive complimentary tickets as part of their Orange Carpet Benefits program.

Complimentary parking for FanFest is available in Camden Yards Lot B/C. For updated information about the event, fans should visit www.orioles.com/fanfest.

Os trade for Teagarden (updated)

The Orioles search for a backup to catcher Matt Wieters ended Thursday afternoon when they acquired Taylor Teagarden from the Texas Rangers in exchange for a pair of Minor League players.

The trade will involve one player to be named later as well as  Minor League pitcher Randy Henry. The PTBNL will take place after next week’s Rule 5 Draft. The Orioles designated left-handed pitcher Pedro Viola for assignment to make room for Teagarden on the 40-man roster.

A defensive minded catcher who is out of options, Teagarden adds immediate depth to the Orioles roster, which doesn’t have any catcher other than Wieters on the 40-man. Teagarden, 27, was drafted by the Rangers in 2005 –when current O’s manager Buck Showalter was still there – and he spent most of last season in Triple-A.  A career .262 hitter in the Minors , Teagarden has a solid arm and will take the place of Craig Tatum, who the Orioles lost on waivers to the Astros earlier this winter.

The market for free agent catchers has been one of the most active in the early weeks of the Hot Stove season and new executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette made it no secret that it was a positional hole he’d like to fill as soon as possible. Teagarden’s arrival will help spell the 25-year-old Wieters who Showalter would like to give more rest in 2011. Wieters was selected to his first All-Star game last season and played in 139 games. He is one of only a few Orioles viewed as untouchable in terms of a trade, as Duquette has already stressed he will be active in the trade market this winter.

The Orioles are also looking for starting rotation and bullpen help as well as another outfielder. They have been in talks with at least a dozen teams in advance of next week’s Winter Meetings with right-handed pitcher Jeremy Guthrie viewed as their best trade chip.

The Orioles’ deal with Texas for Teagarden was first reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, while the Baltimore Sun first reported that the two sides were in trade talks.

Report: Orioles in talks for Teagarden

The Orioles search for a backup to catcher Matt Wieters could be over soon. Multiple reports on Thursday had Baltimore deep in talks with Texas regarding former top prospect Taylor Teagarden. A defensive minded catcher who is out of options, Teagarden wouldn’t command a large price, probably a Minor Leaguer or two, and would help add depth to the Orioles’ 40-man roster, which doesn’t have any catcher other than Wieters.

Just 25 years old, Wieters was selected to his first All-Star game last year but manager Buck Showalter would prefer to give the young backstop more rest this season. Wieters played in 139 games in 2010.  The Baltimore Sun was the first to report that the two sides were in talks, and right now there is no deal in place although that could change in a hurry.

The market for free agent catchers has been one of the most active in the early weeks of the Hot Stove season and new executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has made it no secret that it’s a positional hole he’d like to fill as soon as possible.

Orioles set to announce Fanfest

The Orioles are expected to announce plans for their annual FanFest later this afternoon and full details, along with how you can purchase tickets, will be on Orioles.com. This year’s date is January 21, and season ticket holders who renew automatically get a complimentary ticket to the event, which is held at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Usually, most of the Orioles team is there as well as the front office of manger Buck Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette, who also spend time taking fan questions.

Speaking of fan questions, I’m sorting through my email now to work on an inbox for today to answer some of your questions heading into the Winter Meetings. You can send your query to brittany.ghiroli@mlb.com with “inbox” in the title. Please be sure to include your name and hometown!

We’ve got some good things planned for next week’s Winter Meetings in Dallas here on Orioles.com, including a chance for Duquette to answer your questions personally. It should be a busy, sleep-deprived few days (I’ve got the Starbucks Via! packets already packed) but hopefully the Orioles make some moves and it’s not just rumors. If I learned one thing at last year’s Winter Meetings, which were my first, it’s that rumors fly from all over the place and 99 percent of them never come true. I’ll do my best to sort through things and present you with the most up-to-date, accurate information possible.

And in case you missed it, here’s the Spring Training schedule for 2012 that was announced earlier this week.

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